Delivering with the world’s most sustainable building material.

The CISC develops educational, informational and research tools to improve the construction industry’s understanding of steel’s sustainability features, and to respond to the evolving requirements of green construction and green building rating systems. Initiatives include:

• LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) webinars
• Articles in Advantage Steel magazine
• Links to sustainability resources

The importance of sustainability and the move towards designing high-performance, green buildings continue to gain momentum in the construction industry. The CISC aims to be at the forefront of this movement, and to help raise awareness of steel’s inherent green attributes, performance features, and its cradle-to-cradle life cycle that make it one of the most sustainable construction materials on the planet

From the production of steel, to its fabrication and use in construction applications, the industry wants to make a difference in the environment. Involved in recycling and reuse initiatives since the turn of the century, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption on several steel processes and its CO2 emission by more than 20% since 1990. The steel industry's commitments are real, measurable and worldwide.

Reduce | Reuse | Recycle

Energy efficiency in the Canadian steel industry improved by 26% since 1990 ( Greenhouse Gas Emissions have been reduced by 24% in intensity (per tonne) since 1990. Air and water emissions are 90% lower today than 10 years ago. As a highly prefabricated system, steel can reduce construction periods by 60% and require 75% fewer operatives on site, with consequential benefits to the client, contractor and local community. Steel reduces the building weight and footprint by accommodating longer spans with smaller member sections.

Designers reuse elements of a steel structure on-site or have them dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere without loss of steel’s basic properties. Slag, a by-product of steel, is fully recovered and reused for road building, cement substitutes and other applications. Gases produced during iron making are used for reheating.

More steel is recycled each year than paper, aluminum, glass and plastic combined. Of the 99% steel recovered at the end-of-life of a steel building, 15% is locally reused and the rest is recycled.

The inherent recycled content of steel is the highest of any structural material

In North America, there are two main methods used to make structural steel. More than half is produced using the mini-mill Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) which relies on virtually 100% recycled steel. The integrated mill produces steel with the BOF (Basic Oxygen Furnace) process and up to 35% recycled steel ( Adding post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled contents typically delivers average LEED values of 40 to 50% - well exceeding the credit’s objective.

Together, EAF and BOF processes ensure a globally sustainable development of steel in construction today. The international CO2 Breakthrough Programme is currently developing solutions to reduce the impact of these processes in the future.

The Triple Bottom Line of Sustainability

Sustainability is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own”. It rests on three pillars: social, environmental and economic.

Steel fabrication uses technologically advanced production methods, provides safe working conditions and a product that is aesthetically pleasing.

Steel is repeatedly recycled and reused, is energy efficient and allows for long lasting lightweight construction.

Steel has low labour and production costs, faster erection time, an ability to generate revenue sooner and is less expensive to change during use than other materials.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED is a green building rating system. Managed by the Canadian Green Building Council (, it encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices with tools and performance criteria. Steel consistently helps designers acquire points in LEED MR credits for recycled materials (2 points), regional content (2 points) and reuse (2 points) – totalling 6 of the 14 points available for “materials.” In use, steel integrates and works with other materials such as glass in a double skin façade, concrete in a radiant floor heating system or wood in a hybrid system. As a result, steel has an impact on the entire Life Cycle and contributes points to not only one but several LEED categories

We hope the resources below will help architects and engineers build greener buildings.

How much – Calculating recycled steel content resources

Steel Recycling Institute

Features a section addressed to architects and engineers on dealing with LEED requirements.

Fact sheet contains breakdowns of post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content of steel as a function of the steel recycling process.
View it here.

ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc.

This fact sheet contains relative information on post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content. ArcelorMittal Dofasco is a major supplier of sheet products used to manufacture steel decks and cladding.

Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. and Nucor Corporation

This letter offers relative information on post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content. Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. is a major supplier of structural steel shapes. Comprehensive data sheets from are also available from Nucor Corporation, a major supplier of beam, plate and sheet products.
View the LEED references here.


This letter documents and certifies the percentage of recycled material utilized in the production of structural steel products. Gerdau is a major supplier of structural steel shapes.

What and how – Reusing steel

Steel Reuse website
This website facilitates greater reuse and recycling of steel components in construction. It includes information for designers, case studies, resources, news, and postings of ‘available’ items of reclaimed construction steel that are offered for sale.

Sustainability and Steel II: Recovery
 by Sylvie and Sylvain Boulanger

This paper includes pointers on achieving LEED points in the Materials category. > links to html archive

Steel Reuse Case Study
 by Carmela Sergio and Mark Gorgolewski

This paper takes a close look at revitalizing downtown Oshawa with the reuse of a steel frame building.
View it here.

More – Resources on sustainability, LEED, and steel

The 3Rs of Steel: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
by Terri Meyer Boake

How to create more sustainable steel buildings through logical means.
Advantage Steel No.26.
View it here

Sustainability and Steel I: Integration
 by Sylvain and Sylvie Boulanger

From the onset of conceptual development, steel contributes towards sustainability most efficiently when its design is integrated with other building systems and conditions. This paper includes pointers on achieving LEED points in categories other than Materials. > links to html archive

LEEDing with STEEL 2009 
from CSSBI 
An introduction to the LEED program and steel's place in the program.

LEED 2009 document 
from CaGBC
Leed Canada For New Construction And Major Renovations 2009
Leed Canada Pour Les Nouvelles Constructions Et Les Rénovations Importantes 2009

LEED, a primer
 by Terri Meyer Boake and Caroline Prochazka
An overview of sustainable design categories in the context of LEED. > links to html archive

Thermal performance and life cycle approach to residential framing

Canada | ArcelorMittal Dofasco

Selected conference papers prepared by ArcelorMittal Dofasco engineers and partners.

View it here

Life Cycle Inventory
Belgium | IISI

Study offers cradle-to-gate LCI, an inventory quantifying inputs and emissions related to the production of a range of steel products. Data is collected for over 50 sites around the world, making this study one of the most representative LCIs ever undertaken for any material. > links to LCA page

Steel's Contribution to a Low Carbon Future
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